APTEL: Basic Tariff Of Rs 8.40/unit To Be Restored For Solar Developer

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The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has ruled in a case involving a solar power developer, Vatsala Bellary Solar Projects Private Limited versus the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) and Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), to restore the original tariff of Rs 8.40/unit over the redrafted tariff of Rs 4.36/unit that KERC had exerted on the developer.

The primary issue decided by APTEL was whether the project qualified for a waiver of the delay in starting scheduled operations, which was attributed to the time required by government authorities to permit land conversion. In this, APTEL alluded to earlier orders as well as a Supreme Court decision that had decided in favour of developers in the state. 

Even a three-member state commission entrusted with studying the problem, which is widespread among many small developers, found substance in the allegation that delays were created by government agencies involved.

As a result, the committee advised BESCOM to grant such cases a six-month extension on a case-by-case basis. However, in a subsequent general order, the KERC opted to reserve the power to such expansions solely with its permission.

In this case, this resulted in an interesting situation in which the developer, although getting a letter from BESCOM granting a six-month time extension and so achieving its new deadline for commercial operations, faced the potential of having to go through KERC later. For the delay, the KERC wisely chose to apply liquidated costs and cut the project rate to Rs 4.36/unit.

The APTEL order here alluded to its original order as well as the SC order, informing everyone involved, that in previous situations, it had passed negative comments against the KERC for taking such a mindset.

Therefore, the tariff orders are reinstated and directed BESCOM to settle the indebtedness owed to the solar developer since the commencement date, as the discom had been paying at a cheaper rate up until this point.

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